News • 17 Jan 2023

Make progress, not resolutions, this New Year

A woman in active wear raises her arms triumphantly as she completes climbing a seaside hill

As the clock ticked over to 2023, many people would have been making resolutions in hope of effecting change in their lives this year. While it is great to start the year with enthusiasm and positivity, did you know that less than half of people who make resolutions manage to see them through?

There are a few reasons why sticking to New Year’s resolutions can be hard, and failure to keep them can cause feelings of guilt, shame and despondency. Common reasons why New Year resolutions fail are that they are too ambitious, too vague and/or too restrictive. At Open Minds, we are big believers in making progress through small, sustainable steps. If New Year’s resolutions aren’t working for you, why not focus on making progress instead of resolutions following these five simple steps?

  1. Set a goal focused on abundance, not scarcity

Some goals can have you focussed on what you must give up, rather than what you must gain. Setting a goal based on abundance instead of scarcity means you will feel more positive about the changes you are making. The following table demonstrates some popular New Year’s resolutions and some abundance-based goals (also known as approach goals) as alternatives:

NY ResolutionFocusAlternative goalFocus
I will lose weightFood you can’t eatI will eat more of the foods that support my healthFood you can eat for a positive result
I will spend lessLifestyle and budget restrictionsI will be creative with my resources to save moneyFinding ways to enjoy your preferred lifestyle while saving money
I will drink less alcoholDrinks you can’t have; social isolationI will choose activities and company that support me to practice mindful drinkingAdopting a healthy relationship with alcohol
  1. Choose your timing

Not all goals are going to succeed if you start on 1 January. Trying to save money but you have back to school expenses coming up? Want to start running, but it’s too hot outside? Just because you can’t start on your goal straight away doesn’t mean you won’t be able to achieve it, so give yourself a grace period.

  1. Create a plan to support your goal

There is little opportunity for success with your goals if you do not have a plan in place. A plan will give you clear direction and definition of how you will achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to reduce your screentime, your plan to achieve this could be to keep your devices out of your bedroom overnight.

  1. Be realistic

Setting yourself small, attainable goals within the realities of your life will build the foundation for success. Accept that some goals will take lots of time and dedication to achieve, so work towards smaller milestones that signify progress, rather than the end result. For example, if you want to run a marathon but have never run before, make your first goal to run 1km.

  1. Account for setbacks

Life is full of surprises, so it is vital to be flexible and forgiving when obstacles appear. Sickness or injury may derail your fitness goal, an unexpected repair to your home or car may eat into your hard-earned savings, or you may simply lose motivation. Sometimes we just need to take a break and reset instead of quitting altogether. Take the time to reflect on the progress you’ve made and remind yourself you can continue your journey when the time is right.

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